Winning the Best Large Car category in the Automobile Journalist Association of Canada’s annual Car and Truck of the Year awards was no easy feat this year, especially considering the qualifying contenders on hand.
To qualify for entry a vehicle must be entirely new or significantly updated, and the winning 2018 Honda Accord Sedan was up against the completely redesigned 2018 Toyota Camry and refreshed 2018 Mazda6, plus other new four-door offerings that didn’t make the “finalists” cut in December.
Mazda won’t likely complain about losing out to the Accord as it won three 2018 AJAC Car and Truck of the Year categories including Best Small Car with its Mazda3, Best Small Utility Vehicle with its CX-5, and Best Large Utility Vehicle with its CX-9, beating out the renewed Highlander in the latter class, but that last point only rubs salt in Toyota’s wound of the new Camry losing out to the new Accord.
Whether earning the coveted AJAC award will help the Accord surpass the Camry’s current sales lead is impossible to tell, with 2017 coming to a close at 14,574 units to 13,504 in favour of the Toyota, but it certainly can’t hurt matters. More importantly, winning the award is testament to the new Accord’s many positive attributes.
The 2018 Accord arrives on the Canadian market with sleek new four-door coupe styling that should win more hearts than it offends. A dramatically deep black centre grille is positioned below a bright chromed horizontal strikethrough up front, which melds into dazzling LED headlamp clusters up top and an intricate lower fascia with LED fog lamps in just-above-base trims, plus a sweptback rear roofline ending in an abbreviated rear deck lid.
Like its predecessor, the new Accord’s tastefully applied chrome trim, premium LED lighting elements, and stylish alloy wheel designs help it look richer than its value pricing suggests, this upscale styling carried inside where innovative design, premium finishings, and fine attention to detail join an impressive array of digital user interfaces and plenty of features.
Its 55-mm longer wheelbase adds rear seat roominess that includes 75 mm of additional legroom over the outgoing model, whereas 10 mm of extra width allows for more shoulder and hip room front to back.
Accord pricing starts at $26,490 plus freight and fees for the entry-level LX, while the top-line Accord Touring can be had for just $35,790 with the 1.5-litre base engine or $38,790 with the optional 2.0-litre. Sport and EX-L trims are also available, although Sport is the only other trim available with the more powerful 2.0-litre engine.
Both four-cylinder engines are turbocharged and direct-injected for improved performance and efficiency. The 1.5-litre, which makes 192 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque, replaces the naturally aspirated 2.4-litre four-cylinder in the previous model, whereas the new 2.0-litre four makes 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque and therefore relinquishes the old 3.5-litre V6 to the history books.
The entry-level engine continues forward with a six-speed manual transmission in base LX and Sport trims, or an available continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) in LX trim that’s standard with the EX-L and Touring, but the 2.0-litre gets an all-new 10-speed automatic that Honda claims as a first for front-wheel drive cars. This said the six-speed manual is also standard when the Sport model gets upgraded to the 2.0-litre engine, Honda clearly aiming to satisfy its many enthusiast drivers with this rare but welcome addition.
Performance in mind, all Accords upgraded to the CVT or automatic transmission get a Sport mode and steering wheel paddle shifters to go along with the Accord’s standard Econ mode button, while both of these sporting upgrades come standard in Touring trim.
What’s more, even base LX and mid-range EX-L trims feature standard 17-inch alloy wheels, although Sport and Touring trims get new 19-inch alloys, while the top-line Touring 2.0 benefits from an upgraded suspension with active dampers.
As for efficiency, the base engine with the manual transmission is five-cycle Transport Canada rated at 8.9 L/100km in the city, 6.7 on the highway and 7.9 combined, while the same engine with the optional CVT gets a 7.9 city, 6.3 highway and 7.2 combined rating. That compares to 10.4 L/100km city, 7.4 highway and 9.0 combined for last year’s four-cylinder and manual combo, while the old CVT-equipped 2017 Accord was rated at 9.2 city, 6.9 highway and 8.2 combined.
Compared to the 2017 V6 it replaces, which was rated at 11.4 city, 7.2 highway and 9.5 combined with its sole six-speed auto last year, the new 2018 model’s upgraded 2.0-litre engine makes considerable progress with a claimed rating of 10.7 city, 7.3 highway and 9.2 combined with the manual, or 10.4 city, 7.4 highway and 9.1 combined with the new 10-speed auto.
Additional features that come standard across the entire 2018 Accord Sedan line include auto on/off headlights with automatic high beams, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, remote engine start (with CVT), proximity keyless entry with pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, speed-sensing variable intermittent wipers, a 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with four-way powered lumbar support, heatable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, SMS text message and email reading capability, a 7.0-inch colour TFT meter display with a driver information interface, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Siri Eyes Free, Wi-Fi tethering, two front USBs, illuminated vanity mirrors, a sunglasses holder, active noise control, 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, and much more.
Along with those LED headlights, all Accords also come standard with the Honda Sensing suite of advanced driver assistance systems, including adaptive cruise control (with low-speed follow when upgraded to the CVT), forward collision warning, autonomous emergency mitigating braking, lane departure warning, and road departure mitigation, while additional standard safety features include a multi-angle backup camera with dynamic guidelines, traffic sign recognition, a driver attention monitor to warn of possible fatigue, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring, front knee airbags (an Accord first), the HondaLink Assist automatic emergency response system, and more.
Of note, Honda’s exclusive LaneWatch blindspot display system comes standard with Sport and EX-L trims, but this gets replaced by blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert in Touring trim.
Options in mind, Sport trim adds fog lamps, dark chrome trim, a rear deck lid spoiler, aluminum-trimmed sport pedals, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a leather shift knob, leather and fabric upholstery, 452-watt premium audio with 10 speakers and a subwoofer, a powered moonroof, near field communication, and more, while some of the sportier features get replaced by more luxury-oriented finishings in EX-L trim, while this upgrade also adds an acoustic windshield, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a HomeLink garage door opener, a heatable steering wheel, two rear USBs, satellite radio, perforated leather upholstery, driver’s seat memory, a four-way powered front passenger seat, heated outboard rear seats, and more.
Lastly, Touring trim builds on the EX-L by adding LED high beams, rain-sensing wipers, ambient lighting, a head-up display, navigation with detailed mapping, voice recognition, wireless device charging, HD radio, an AT&T Wi-Fi hotspot, ventilated front seats, front and rear parking sensors, and more.
Additionally, the Accord Hybrid returns for 2018, but has yet to go on sale. It pairs a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with two electric motors that are powered by a new, smaller battery pack housed below the trunk’s cargo floor to improve cargo capacity over the previous model.
We’ll be back soon with a full road test review of a 2018 Accord Sedan Touring 2.0, at which point we’ll give you our take on this award-winning mid-size sedan. Until then, check out these two video overviews from Honda Canada:
Quick overview (1:25):
Detailed overview with commentary (4:29):